Biopolitics and Engagement: What Foucault Learned about Power from the Maoists (2012)

Richard Wolin on Foucault, power and the Maoists.

Foucault News

Richard Wolin, Biopolitics and Engagement: What Foucault Learned about Power from the Maoists, Feb 28, 2012

Michel Foucault’s conception of “power-knowledge” has been one of the most influential political ideas to have arisen in recent decades. It reverses the age-old assumption that knowledge will set us free. Instead, it suggests that knowledge is more closely related to social control than it is to freedom. Foucault’s rethinking of the relationship between power and knowledge was not a purely theoretical discovery. Instead it derives from his concerted political involvement with the Prison Information Group (GIP) – an innovative group of renegade French Maoists active during the early 1970s. Richard Wolin (History, The Graduate Center, CUNY) will discuss this hitherto underresearched episode of Foucault’s past as a political activist.

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